This week we heard that golf’s governing bodies have proposed a new Model Local Rule to be introduced in January 2026 where competition organisers can enforce their players to play balls that go shorter than the current legal models.
In short, bifurcation will happen where elite golfers will use a different ball to the rest of us.
The suggestion, from the USGA and R&A, means that The Open and US Open will feature different balls. The Masters and other tours haven’t yet said anything about the move to limit the distance a ball can travel to 320 yards.
And, unsurprisingly, the prospect of getting used to a new ball for certain, if not every, tournaments hasn’t gone down well with the players. Bryson DeChambeau has been the first name to pop up when the distance debate is aired and he couldn’t be more against it.
"If you could say I’m the complete opposite times 1,000, that’s what I would be. It’s a great handicap for us guys that have worked really hard to learn how to hit it farther. Look, if they do it in a way where it only affects the top end, I see the rationale. But I think it’s the most atrocious thing that you could possibly do to the game of golf. It’s not about rolling golf balls back; it’s about making golf courses more difficult.”
As for the entertainment levels that will be affected the American was unequivocal in his anti-rollback thoughts.
“I think it’s the most unimaginative, uninspiring, game-cutting thing you could do. Everybody wants to see people hit it farther. That’s part of the reason why a lot of people like what I do. It’s part of the reason a lot of people don’t like what I do. But again, it creates more conversation in a positive way than cutting it back and trying to make everybody equal. I’m all about equality. I’m not about equity on this front.”
Justin Thomas was equally damning of the news and particularly the USGA.
“Disappointed and also not surprised, to be honest. I think the USGA over the years has made some pretty selfish decisions. They definitely, in my mind, have done a lot of things that aren’t for the betterment of the game, although they claim it. I had conversations with some USGA members and I don’t understand how it’s growing the game. For them to say in the same sentence that golf is in the best place it’s ever been, ‘Everything is great, but –’
“I’m like, ‘Well, there shouldn’t be a but.’ You’re trying to create a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s so bad for the game of golf.”
Thomas added that part of the game’s charm is that we all use the same (or similar) equipment and that a different ball would be hugely detrimental.
“For an everyday amateur golfer, it’s unique that we are able to play the exact same equipment. I understand that I may have a different grind on a wedge, whatever you want to call it, but you can go to the pro shop and buy the same golf ball that I play or Scottie Scheffler plays or whatever. But the USGA wants to bring it to a point where that’s not the case. I don’t understand how that’s better for the game of golf.
“The amount of time and money these manufacturers have spent trying to create the best product possible and now you’re going to tell them and us that we have to start over, potentially? For two of the four biggest events of the year we’re going to have to use a different ball? Try to explain to me how that’s better for the game of golf.”